Once in a while a book comes along that you don’t want to keep reading but just can’t stand put down–the kind of book that cuts to the core of the problems facing the church and points out what a life seized by Christ looks like. My list of books in this category is short: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, Richard Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel, David Platt’s Radical…and most recently, Embracing Obscurity.
From the opening pages, this anonymous work rightly calls our over-inflated egos on the carpet and points out the delusional drunkenness of our sinful pride:
We’re all intoxicated with a desire to be known, recognized, appreciated, and respected. We crave to be a “somebody” and do notable things, to achieve our dreams and gain the admiration of others. To be something–anything–other than nothing.
The trouble with you and me and rest of humanity is not that we lack self-confidence (as we’re told by the world) but that we have far too much self-importance. The thought of being just another of the roughly one hundred billion people to have ever graced this planet offends us–whether we realize it or not.
Encouraging, right? It should be. It should be very encouraging that, as anonymous and obscure as we truly are, we are loved by an omnipotent and eternal God who, in the ultimate act of humble obscurity, took on humanity to dwell among us and die a criminal’s death (Phil 2.6-8). Here, in Christ, is our true significance, and here we find the strength to subdue our pride and embrace obscurity that God might be magnified in our lives.
After showing us where our true significance lies, the author spends the rest of this powerful work encouraging us to follow Christ by embracing servanthood, suffering, and the mystery (from the world’s point of view) of the Christian lifestyle that is so counter to our culture. Most importantly, we are reminded, we have a finite amount of time in order to glorify God in our earthly lives:
You will die. Maybe today; maybe fifty years from now. How will you spend the seconds, hours, days, and years you have left? Will you waste your time loving the things of this world, worrying about your star rating, and focusing on your success? Or will you invest the remainder of your life “seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers”? Will you take on the disposition of Christ, submitting to God’s will, loving justice and mercy, serving selflessly and loving fully? Will you walk worthy of the glorious gospel–even if no one ever knows your name?
I am not overstating when I say that this book has the potential to send you off in a direction you never thought you would go. It’s message is uncomfortable. It is unsettling. And it is absolutely necessary.
If you’re interested, check it out on the Embracing Obscurity website or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or CBD (not affiliate links).
(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)